Pair convicted of 2012 home invasion murder
Two men were convicted Tuesday of killing a wealthy man during a home invasion robbery at his large Monte Sereno estate nearly four years ago.
A jury found DeAngelo Austin and Javier Garcia, both 25, guilty of first-degree murder of Raveesh “Ravi” Kumra on Nov. 30, 2012 during a home invasion robbery at the victim’s home, where they also attacked the victim’s ex-wife, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith said.
Kumra, 66, who once owned a Saratoga winery, was gagged, tied up and choked to death during the early morning hours. Emergency crews who responded to the home pronounced him dead at the scene.
The defendants were also found guilty on charges of robbery in concert, criminal threats and two counts of false imprisonment, Smith said.
A third defendant in the case, Marcellous Drummer, faced trial and was convicted in 2014. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.
The jury also found that the crimes were carried out to benefit a criminal street gang and a special circumstance of murder over the course of a robbery, Smith said.
In addition, Austin was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, according to Smith.
The jury was presented with DNA evidence both defendants left at the scene in addition to cellphone data indicating the men were in the area at the time the crimes occurred, Smith said.
A cooperating witness, Katrina Fritz, had also testified that she knew about the plans for the robbery, according to Smith.
Fritz is an ex-prostitute who provided services to Kumra at his home and in area hotels between 1999 and 2011. She was initially charged with the murder, but reached a deal with prosecutors after she pleaded guilty to robbery and false imprisonment charges.
In exchange for the shorter sentence, Fritz agreed to testify against Austin, Garcia and Drummer in exchange for a sentence of up to 17 years in prison, Smith said.
There have been no murders reported in Monte Sereno since Kumra’s death, Smith said.
Kumra’s ex-wife, Harinder Kumra, took the witness stand for a second time in Austin and Garcia’s trial to recount how the defendants attacked her as she slept, Smith said.
The defendants tied up the victims and ransacked their home, where they took about $30,000 in cash, jewelry and other property, according to Smith.
Harinder Kumra during the trial talked about how at night she sees the face of Austin, the man who killed her husband, according to Smith.
Austin faces a mandated prison term of life without the possibility of parole consecutive to an additional number of years at the judge’s discretion for the other charges when he is sentenced on Aug. 5, Smith said.
Garcia is expected to face 25 years to life in prison for the other charges and prior convictions during his sentencing set for July 8, according to Smith.
Based on evidence presented at trial, which started April 13, prosecutors are looking for two additional suspects in the case, according to Smith.
Austin’s attorney Chuck Smith said that he was against the jury’s decision that the murder was done to help a gang and to convict him of the special circumstance allegation.
Austin could face 25 or 30 years to life in prison if the judge at trial and/or the state court of appeal agrees to a reduced sentence, according to Smith.
“No one intended (for) the victim to die and it’s just very unfortunate,” Chuck Smith said.
Chuck Smith added that it was “not likely” the defendants would identify other suspects in the case out of fear that they’ll get killed out of retaliation while in prison.
Garcia’s attorney, Christopher Givens of the Santa Clara County Alternate Defender’s Office, didn’t immediately return a call for comment this afternoon.